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Dentists and the U.S. Economy 3rd Quarter 2009 report - Growing Optimism in a sluggish recovery

Report #: 090879

Date: 10/07/2009

Fees: $495.00 USD (site license)

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The 3rd quarter 2009 edition of OMNIDENTM - AFG Research’s U.S. dental omnibus - included several questions designed to gather dentists’ opinions regarding the current state of the U.S. economy and the way their practice has been affected by the current economic environment. Results for these questions are made available as part of a report titled: “Dentists and the U.S. Economy 3rd Quarter 2009 – Growing Optimism in a Sluggish Recovery”.

Specifically, AFG Research probed into what 275 U.S. dentists think about the current economic environment and the challenges faced by their practice. As part of this study, AFG Research measured the changes experienced in the volume of twenty different dental procedures during the past six months, including direct restorations, implant procedures and many others. In addition, we collected feedback from dentists on their outlook for the upcoming six months and purchase intentions with respect to 30 key dental technologies and equipment. More importantly, in order to get a deeper understanding on how the recent economic downturn has affected capital investment in the dental practice, this study also provides an inside look into dentists’ financing obstacles for a variety of capital investment activities within their own practice.

There is growing evidence that the U.S. economy has moved from a deepening recessionary state to a state of stability and perhaps, gradual recovery:

  • “The IMF on economic recovery: Snail's pace”, The Economist, September 2009
  • “A Year in Turmoil: An Address By Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke”, Brookings Institution, September 15, 2009
  • “Growing Pains”. Global Economic Forum, Morgan Stanley, September 2009
  • “The Beginning of the End of the Recession? The second quarter saw a much slower real GDP decline, an indication that the economy has hit bottom and is ready to grow”, Business Week, August 2009
  • “U.S. Economy May Be on Brink of Recovery, Tyson, Krugman Say”, Bloomberg News Survey, September 2009
  • “All bad things must end - economists say recession is over”, MarketWatch, September 2009

The general theme, for the 3rd Quarter of 2009, is that some leading (e.g., increasing inventories / manufacturers activity) and lagging (e.g., unemployment) indicators are showing signs that the U.S. economy is stabilizing and moving towards the direction of gradual recovery. Serious concerns however remain about the pace and scope of the recovery with many predicting a lackluster recovery over the next year (September 2009 to September 2010).

The U.S. unemployment rate, which has reached a seemingly stable level of around 9.5 to 9.7% in the third quarter of 2009, should be a concern for the dental industry particularly, as job losses are generally related to the loss of business activity in the dental practice. Given recent and significant productivity gains and taking into account the lag that is usually observed between post-recessionary expansion and employment growth, unemployment is not expected to decrease before the end of 2009. This will likely have an adverse impact on both dental benefits and employer-sponsored dental plans and will most likely affect dentists’ expectations on the volumes and mix of dental procedures to be demanded by patients.

Half of dentists surveyed see the cost of borrowing as one of the most important factors in the decision for large capital investments. 28% feel that financing has become both less available and more expensive in the recent months. Despite these findings, dentists seem to have revised their overall planned expenditures / dental technology investments upward in comparison to the second quarter 2009, with budgets for equipment and technologies increasing sharply since the last quarter. Between 4% and 8% of dentists surveyed submitted an application for equipment purchase / practice expansion financing purposes in the past 6 months. 15% of dentists surveyed report that they are likely to remodel their practice and 7% report that they may expand their practice in the next 12 months.

In terms of practice management, dentists indicated that cost-cutting measures (practice overhead expenses especially) would be a top priority over the next 6 months. Of lower priority, relative to prior quarters, include increases in marketing and communications for their practices.

The research also confirmed three main underlying segments among U.S. dental practices: "On the edge", "Bandwagon" and "Robust". Perceptions of the U.S. economy, procedure volume (past and forecasted), as well as dental equipment / technology purchases are clearly different among each of these three segments. Concerning these segments, this quarter’s report has found that the “On the edge” group of dental practices has been shrinking over time and is at its smallest size since the 4th quarter 2008.

Finally, this quarter’s report also introduces two measures for tracking both the current state and the expected state of dental practice activities over the last 4 quarters: the “AFG Research current dental activity index” and the “AFG Research dental activity expectations index”. These indices, each of which is constructed from the re-scaled results of twelve questions (six questions on current practice conditions and six questions on expected practice conditions), provide a clear and concise view on the evolution of current business perceptions and expectations over the recessionary period. Indices for the last 4 quarters are available in this quarter’s report “Dentists and the U.S. Economy 3rd Quarter 2009 – Growing Optimism in a Sluggish Recovery” – which is now available for purchase.

Current and expected U.S. dental practice activity charts below:

current business conditions for U.S. dental practices OMNIDEN AFG Research Q309

business outlook conditions for U.S. dental practices OMNIDEN AFG Research Q309

The report will help dental manufacturers and distributors to: a) assess the current business environment of the industry, b) better understand the ways in which dentists across the U.S. are coping with changes in the economic environment, c) identify key opportunities for adapting their business to better address the needs of their customers d) track the changes in key dental business activities during both the recessionary and post-recessionary periods, and e) identify future trends and developments to better forecast business activity in 2009 and beyond.

Dental Procedures Covered:

The report covers the following dental procedures:

Dental Product Categories Covered:

The report covers the following dental product categories:

Report Table of Contents:

  • Section I: Research Objectives (p. 4)
  • Section II: Methodology Overview (p. 6)
  • Section III: Executive Summary (p. 12)
  • Section IV: U.S. Economy and Dental Practice Connection (p. 17)
  • Section V: Dentists’ Assessment of the Current and Future State of the U.S. Economy and their Dental Practice (p. 22)
  • Section VI: Direct and Indirect Procedures: Current and Expected Volume Changes (p. 61)
  • Section VII: Practice Management Priorities (p. 75)
  • Section VIII: Dental Practice Capital Budget and Future Purchases (p. 79)
  • Section IX: Segment & Demographics Profiling (p. 123)
  • Appendix I: Questionnaire (p. 137)
  • Appendix II: OMNIDEN™ (p. 140)

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DTA Members Discount:

Dental Trade Alliance (DTA)

 AFG Research is a member of the Dental Trade Alliance (DTA)

Any organization which is currently a member of the Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) is eligible to an additional discount on the report license fees. Please request your coupon code if applicable.

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